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The Other War on Christmas by Guest Blogger Kristy Fassio

Kristy Fassio is a personal trainer working in Seattle, WA.  She is, in her own words, a “body positive warrior and fitness fanatic.”

She writes for our holiday blog hop about “The Other War on Christmas… and how to begin to shut it down!”  Great tips for staying sane and navigating all the unfortunate diet messaging we get during the holiday season.

“Healthy people eat during the holiday season. Healthy people sometimes overeat during the holiday season. And healthy people really don’t care that much about it, because they just aren’t afraid of the food.”

To read more click here!

On Working Towards Self Love

I had a great time on Sept. 30th leading a workshop at the Graduate Women’s Project at UC Berkeley about Exercise and Self-Love.

Displaying some of my favorite books as resources

Displaying some of my favorite books as resources

A funny thing happened when I started preparing for this workshop. I was getting ready to lead people in examining their own critical voices. And, I noticed that my own critical voice, when I went for my own workouts, seemed to be getting stronger. I would go for morning jogs and notice I was berating myself for not being faster, not going longer, not being as intense about my workouts as I was 5 years ago. Even after all this work in body acceptance and Health At Every Size, I still have this critical voice that follows me around, and resurges mightily from time to time.

Exercise was such a source of shame for me when I was younger. When I became a more athletic person in my mid-twenties, I also became really compulsive about it. There was a part of me that needed to prove myself to my family, my friends, to the people I grew up with that finally, I was fit, I was “healthy” and they could get off my back about it.  Pushing myself hard was my way of proving myself to them.

There was also an unhealthy side to my fitness regime. If I didn’t exercise intensely every day, I thought I was a failure. I would walk around planning my workouts or feeling miserable for those I didn’t complete. I would hate how so many people seemed to be faster and stronger than me, without much effort. I spent a lot of mental energy obsessed with this stuff… and just think what I could have been doing with all of those hours instead!

Now, as a personal trainer, I am so grateful to work with clients who are able to express some of the critical voices and negative self-talk that come up for them. We all have it, to one degree or another. We are surrounded by a culture that bombards us with messages about weight loss, diet and a militaristic approach to exercise. It is no wonder that we internalize it to some degree. Yet, when we can have a space or a good friend to talk with about these critical voices, when we can let it out and get some perspective, then, in time, we can begin to change. In my work, I remind people to show up for their best intentions, to show up for self-care, to honor their bodies through exercise, to notice how their bodies feel. In these reminders, I am also really reminding myself as well.

Over the years I’ve loosened up some of my excessive planning around exercise. I decide each morning what I’m excited about doing at the gym that day (and, some days, it’s nothing at all!). I don’t plan weeks in advance. I don’t panic or beat myself up when things don’t go as planned. When I train for a race, I make a plan, but I don’t worry too much if something prevents me from following through 100%. I do what I can, as best as I can, and let the rest go. This approach has taken many years of practice, and it is counter-intuitive as someone who is used to going all-out when I am excited about something. And, some days are better than others.

In the workshop at UC Berkeley, we talked about positive things we can say to ourselves while working out. Genuine mantras that can, in time, begin to replace our own negative thinking as well as the weight-driven, negative body image messaging that we are bombarded with daily.

Why do we exercise in the first place if not to lose weight? What are some of the weight-neutral benefits? Mental clarity, increased energy, better sleep and digestion are just some of the things that I know to be true for me.

My positive mantra of the month has been: “Thank you, body. Thank you for all that you do!”

In the workshop at UC Berkeley, we noticed how when we are in a place of self-love and positive self-talk, our posture shifts, our heads lift up, and we are more able to see and acknowledge those around us.

I am looking forward to more opportunities this fall to explore the themes of exercise, the critical voice, and self-love. I will be talking at two very exciting events this fall! See below for more details. I hope you can come!!

New Tools: Old Oppression: Challenging Weight Stigma with Creativity and Wit
I will be speaking on a panel entitled “Diverse Experiences of Weight Stigma” moderated by Jessica Wilson
October 25, 2014, 10:30 a.m.—4:30 p.m., Oakland, CA
Registration fee: $25* Registration deadline: Monday, Oct. 20
*Sliding scale; no one will be turned away for inability to pay.

Lose Hate Not Weight Babecamp

A virtual 30-day intensive course designed by acclaimed body image expert, lecturer and author, Virgie Tovar, to change the way you think about and relate to your body.

I will be speaking as a guest lecturer about exercise, self-love, and shifting your critical voice.

Let’s Talk About Breasts

I’m getting ready for another round of running groups to begin, and it is time to talk about breasts. Seriously. For the longest time, I didn’t think I could become a runner because of my chest.  And, I hear this same concern from women I work with all of the time. Several half marathons and marathons later, I’m proud to tell you that there are bras out there designed for you! Not everyone is a runner, but big-chested women, and big people, in general, absolutely can run, and can get some great support along the way.

Here are some tips for bra success:

1) Research what’s out there 

Get to know the different types of bras: there are sports bras that cross in the back, ones with traditional straps, ones that buckle in front, ones that have  molded cups, ones that separate the breasts, and others that don’t.  Each of these features has it’s benefits and drawbacks, and no one bra is best for everyone.  
Here are some places to start:
My favorite brands are Enell and Moving Comfort. They are designed specifically for athletes with big chests, and they are designed with high-impact activity in mind.

 enellEnell’s Last Resort Bra has been my absolute favorite for years

Title Nine is a store specializing in women’s athletic wear.  They have locations in the Bay Area, and an online catalogue.

Check out About.com‘s reviews of bras for big chested women. I wholeheartedly endorse all of these!

 2) Go Into a Store and Try Things On

It may be easy to order something online, but it’s hard to really know how it’s going to be for you unless you try it on and jump around a little!

A specialty athletic store, (or even better, a specialty women’s athletic store like See Jane Run) have staff who are knowledgeable and will help you out.

 Nordstrom’s does bra fittings. Bra fittings can change lives. If you don’t feel comfortable with getting sized up, they also have an online resource for how to tell if you have the right fit.

3) Be Willing to Spend Some Money!

This is the most important piece of advice! I get it. I am living on a budget too. The bras I’m recommending are expensive! But, honey, you are worth it! I can assure you that buying cheap bras that don’t fit or that wear out often will be far more expensive in the long run than investing $60-$70 in a quality new bra.

 4) Consider Doubling Up

This may be controversial… In my experience, some bras fit better in some ways and not in others. I have a bra that gives great support overall, but I tend to chafe under my breasts with it, especially on my longer runs. Wearing a less supportive bra underneath my really good bra helps protect me from this chafing. Doubling up can help prevent some of these chronic pains and scrapes as well as give extra support.

 5) Prevent Chafing 

If you find yourself having chafing at your breasts, belly, or thighs, applying Vaseline is a great way to prevent this. There are many anti-chafing products on the market, but, really, just some simple Vaseline will do!

According to Nordstroms, 4 out of 5 women are walking around in the wrong bra size. But, we don’t have to be uncomfortable. Go out there, bring a friend, and find what works for you.

Got any bra tips? I’d love to hear them!

5 Steps to Happy Cycling

This Spring/Summer, I’ve been leading an 8-week cycling class. Riding a bike is really my first and favorite exercise passion. I love this cycling group and helping people discover new rides and get out on their bikes. For those of you unable to join us, here are some tips for getting out there and enjoying the ride.

Give Your Bike a Tune Up

Before riding, make sure that your bike is in working order. A local bike shop can take a look at your bike, and show you what needs to be fixed. If you’re interested in learning more about how your bike works and how to fix it yourself, many bike shops offer basic mechanic classes. If you’re in the Bay Area, check out these spots below (and, these are just a few of many awesome biking resources in the area):

Biketopia Berkeley – offers classes, do it yourself repair, and community space to connect with other riders

Missing Link – a cooperatively owned bike shop that has a wide range of gear, offers repairs, runs classes on fixing your bike

Bike Kitchen San Francisco – a place to get assistance working on your bike or to build a bike from scratch!

 

Plan Your Route

You’re likely to be more enthusiastic about your ride with a particular destination in mind. Do you want to ride to a local café or park? Curious to check out a bike path? Seeking a scenic destination? Plan your route before you go. There’s a great series of cards of bike rides in different urban areas. This is the one for the Bay Area. These are great because you can shuffle the deck, and pick a card at random. This blog post gives a great overview of some of the best rides in Oakland.  We’ve already done two out of the five in our bike group 🙂

Ride Safely

I don’t care what this guy says, WEAR YOUR GODDAMN HELMET.  It saves lives.  Seriously.

Remember that cyclists must obey the same traffic laws as cars.  This means

– Riding on the right hand side of the street

– Stopping at stop lights

– Signaling your intentions

turns

Ride with awareness of what is in front of you, as well as in your periphery.  Be prepared to react to sudden motions from cars.  Anticipate what is ahead!

Ride with confidence!  Even if you’ve only been riding a short while, riding with confidence, and “faking it until you make it” will help signal to cars that you know what you’re doing.

Make eye contact with drivers.  Make sure you are seen!

Wear bright/reflective clothes and use blinking lights at night.

Check out these great blog posts about riding safely from East Bay Bicycle Coalition and Bike Sense

 

Find a Friend, Group, or Class to Ride With.  Train for an Event or Charity Ride!

It’s so much more fun to ride with others, and there are so many great groups, classes, and organized rides out there!

Meetup.com is great wherever you are to find cycling groups for whatever level you are at.

In the Bay Area:

East Bay Bicycle Coalition – offers a great cycling safety series for beginners or anyone looking to brush up on urban cycling skills.

For folks looking to go on longer rides, these groups are open to people of all levels and offer a wide variety of longer distance rides.  It is a great place to meet people and discover new routes.  They are “no drop” groups, meaning that no one gets left behind 🙂

Grizzly Peak Cyclists

Oakland Yellow Jackets

Velo Girls (an all women’s group)

Training for a charity ride or long-distance ride is great motivation to get into a regular cycling habit!  These are some of my favorite charity rides and long distance rides.

Leukemia and Lymphoma Society: Scenic Shore Bike Tour

Aids Lifecycle Ride from San Francisco to LA

Bike MS Waves to Wine Ride

Grizzly Peak Century

Marin County Century

Seattle to Portland Ride

Cycle California Magazine – a great listing of organized long distance cycling events in California

 

Just get out there!

There’s no perfect way to ride. So much of bike riding is just getting out there and feeling it out for yourself. Get to know your bike, get to know your neighborhood. Enjoy it!

beautiful machine

Running Together, Raising Money

As some of you may know, I’ve been working with two running groups this season to train for the Oakland Running Festival on March 23rd This is my favorite running event of the year!  It’s been going on since 2010, it goes through so many of the neighborhoods of Oakland, and it’s a fun way to celebrate the city.

My running groups this year have been so much fun and have gone to so many scenic locations in the Bay Area- including the new pedestrian path on the Bay Bridge.  It’s hard to believe that we only have a few weeks left!  In both groups, runners of all different levels have achieved goals that they didn’t think were possible before— whether it was running continuously for 20 minutes, running at a faster pace than last year, or running more than 8 miles for the first time ever. I’ve been so inspired watching people pass new milestones!

One of the most inspiring moments of the past few months was running with the people who came out in the pouring rain!  After a very dry December and January, we experienced some big rainstorms this month that happened to fall on weekends.  Runners came out nonetheless!  Nearly everyone said they wouldn’t have come out to run if they were on their own.  (I know I wouldn’t have either!).  I’m inspired to keep asking: what can we do together that we couldn’t do alone?  How can we help each other reach new goals and accomplishments? In the end, it was so refreshing to run in, and to celebrate some much-needed rain with a great group of people. 

 In that same vein, our group has come together to raise money for an organization that is close to our hearts.

The Charlotte Maxwell Clinic provides low-income women with cancer with free alternative medical treatments that are often not covered by insurance. 

Several members in our group have personal connections to this organization either as volunteers or having received services.  Please help us raise money for an organization providing these necessary services in our community. 

$10, $20, or $100 can go a long way. Please help us reach our goal of $2000.  Your donation will help women with cancer access services that are rarely covered under health care plans. 

You can see more and make a donation here

Hope to see you at the Oakland Running Festival on March 23rd, either in person or in spirit 🙂

xo,

Rachel

Finding Balance Through the Holidays

It’s that time of year again.  At our best, we are experiencing lots of warmth, joy, and connection with loved ones.  But, the holidays can often be a time of stress around family, food, and exercise.

The holiday marketing season is also in full swing.  We are bombarded with messages about all the food we should be consuming.  And, then, when January kicks in, we’re bombarded with messages to lose weight, join a gym, and eat other types of (less appealing) food.  Oy Vey!  It kind of reminds me of my grandma, pouring heaps of food onto my plate, goading me to “eat, eat” and, then, in the same breath, telling that I am so fat and need to lose weight.

I’d like to envision a middle path: a holiday season of joyful eating and movement: A turkey trot run, a walk over crunchy leaves in the park with a dear family member, eating and savoring warm seasonal food, feeling satisfied but not stuffed to the point of sickness.

If you’re looking for a supportive way to experience more balanced and enjoyable exercise and eating this holiday season, perhaps one of these two offerings is for you:

 Golda Poretsky’s Health at Every Size for the Holidays E-Course 

Gillian Byers’ Movin’ Easy Through the Holidays Coaching Group

wishing you lots of warmth and connection this holiday season.

xoxo,

Rachel

Addressing Negative Self Talk, Using Mantras, Finding Power

One of the blessings of being a personal trainer is that I get to ask people to do challenging things, and, then I get to be with them while they’re doing something really crazy difficult and… are likely cursing me out because of it.  I get to be a cheerleader and to help people see that they are often capable of far more than they realize.

The flip side of witnessing these transformative moments is witnessing the negative self-talk that often goes hand in hand.  The voices that say: I suck, I’m too fat, I’m uncoordinated, I don’t know how to do this.  We all struggle to one degree or another with these internal voices.  Really, all of us do.

My own negative self-talk appears daily.  This morning, I went for a run, and the script in my head went something like this:  How could you call yourself a running coach?  You’re barely slugging along!  Look, there are small children and old men passing you!  What are you even doing out here?  It’s cold!  You should just go home and go back to bed.

What does negative self talk serve? Why are we often meaner to ourselves than we are to our best friends?  If we convince ourselves that we can’t do x or y activity, then we don’t have to face the possibility of failure.  If we minimize our capabilities, we can write ourselves off as being “less than,” rather than having to compete with others.  If we put ourselves down, we protect ourselves from taking risks.  Risks can be really really scary!  But, they can also bring us to new places.   What if we could show our own skills and talents without measuring them up to other people’s?  (I know!  So much easier said than done).

But, you know what we all also have?  Those moments when we look in the mirror and think “I look good today!”  “I’m a badass.”  “People like me.” “Oh my god, I can do ____ activity that I couldn’t do before!”  Maybe they’re fleeting moments, but they exist.  How can we draw them out in ourselves, in each other?

This week, in the Beginners’ Running Group, we talked about mantras.  A mantra is a short, simple phrase you can repeat to yourself over and over when the going gets tough (or, even before the going gets tough).  It is a projection of your best self: the side of yourself that looks in the mirror and thinks “I’m awesome, I’m hot, I’m a badass!”

When we start to feel slow or sluggish out there running for three miles, or doing any type of difficult activity, a useful mantra could be something like:

“I can do this!”

“I’m out here working hard!”

“Strong, focused, energized, relaxed”

“Look up and smile”

“I have all the skills within me to complete this”

One of my favorite parts of my job is seeing how each person has their own unique grit and determination, just like everyone comes up with a different mantra.  Have you ever used a mantra?  What have you found helpful?

A bunch of us are going to be running a 5K on Sunday November 3rd in Golden Gate Park.  Come cheer us on!  Either in person, or in spirit 🙂

Here’s hoping you, too, find a moment where you feel like a badass today!

Rachel